Sunday, May 6th, 2018
When colour giant Pantone declares its annual Color of the Year, everyone from fashion leaders to interior designers take notice, and before long we start to see the colour all around us. We were overjoyed and very much on board when Ultra Violet got top honours for 2018, because purple just happens to be one of our favourite colours in the garden!
It’s no secret that colours have serious power – take a look at how the beautiful blooms you choose can affect things like mood and energy here – but our love for purple goes beyond the aesthetic. Fruits and vegetables of this hue have been linked to many health benefits that prevent disease and enhance our wellness.
Studies indicate that antioxidants produced by purple power foods can:
- reduce the risk of high blood pressure
- lower cholesterol
- help prevent obesity and diabetes
- assist in lowering the risk of cancer, cardiovascular disease, and neurological diseases
- reduce inflammation and therefore chronic disease
- aid cognitive functions
- help prevent urinary tract infections, fight ulcers, and reduce liver damage and diseases which affect cell development
So with all of that in mind, here are a few of our favourite ways to put some purple on our plates!
Purple Ruffles Basil
Why we love it: The large purple leaves of this basil plant have both a strong fragrance and flavour.
How to serve: We recommend using this basil to create colourful and flavourful herb vinegars.
Cosmic Purple Carrots
Why we love it: Who says you can’t mess with an old favourite? These beautiful carrots will not only make your side dishes more lovely, the flesh is also particularly sweet.
How to serve: Try it cooked in a side dish, or add some colour and variety to snack time and enjoy raw.
Red Ball Brussel Sprouts
Why we love it: These little beauties are sweeter than your average brussel sprout, and pack an even heavier nutritional punch.
How to serve: Pull the leaves apart for a lovely salad, serve whole drizzled with a creamy hollandaise sauce, or go with a classic roasted method to get these on your table.
Pomegranate Crunch Romaine Lettuce
Why we love it: Is the name enough reason? Think of this lettuce as a cross between romaine and butterhead varieties.
How to serve: The salad possibilities are endless!
Honeyberry or Haskap
Why we love it: The first reason to love this berry is its sheer hardiness; this plant was made for the Canadian prairies, just like us. The second reason is that nutritional studies show the haskap to have antioxidant levels similar to or perhaps even greater than blueberries! The plant attracts butterflies to your yard, and the berries are delicious.
How to serve: Eat fresh, or make preserves.
Ruby Mizuna Mustard
Why we love it: It looks pretty and tastes great, but a major reason to love this plant is how easy and versatile it is to grow. Expect great results in cooler soil and winter harvests, in outdoor containers, or right in your kitchen.
How to serve: This plant makes for tasty microgreens or delicious and nutritious salads.
Why we love it: This grape is perfect for making wine… need we say more? Aside from its edible properties, it also makes a great landscaping component for hedges and screening.
How to serve: Try your hand at making juice or wine!
Long Purple Eggplant
Why we love it: The eggplant is such a beautiful purple that “eggplant” has become a colour in its own right. This particular variety is productive and hardy.
How to serve: Try in a stir-fry, or roasted in the oven.
Purple Peacock Pole Beans
Why we love it: These beans are a triple threat! They flower and produce quickly, provide an extremely prolific yield – as long as you pick them, they’ll keep coming in – and they retain flavour extremely well after being picked. Basically there are no reasons NOT to love them.
How to serve: Any way you enjoy green beans will translate – we like these lightly steamed!
Why we love it: Ah, the saskatoon, that uniquely prairie berry. Like its cousin the haskap, this plant is hardy and versatile, and the berries are lovely but also delicious.
How to serve: If you’ve never had saskatoon pie, you’re not really living. Okay, that might be a little dramatic, but it really is a must-try!
Why we love it: This beautiful plant produces clusters of lovely little blueberries that are sweet and juicy. So long as you get the soil and drainage formula right, you can expect a bumper crop from this plant.
How to serve: Really, you can enjoy these in almost any way. Sprinkle them fresh on cereal, salads, or ice cream, mix up blueberry pancakes, bake in pies or crisps, make jellies, jams, and preserves… the list is endless!
Some cultures consider purple to be the colour of royalty, and it’s not hard to see why! Add this shade to your garden and your table, and you’ll feel like you’re eating like a king.
Long live purple!
Tuesday, July 25th, 2017
With summer in full swing, chances are you’ve taken note of the sweet sights and smells of the many flowers in bloom right now. Whether it’s annuals, perennials or foraged blooms, we love harvesting flowers, bringing the outdoors in, and creating beautiful arrangements all season long. But how can we make those beautiful arrangements last as long as possible? Today we have grower, designer and flower expert extraordinaire Kelly Tellier from Lily Stone Gardens sharing her best tips for success.
When to Harvest
“The best time of the day to harvest flowers is early in the morning or late in the evening when it is cool outside. Every flower variety has an appropriate ‘harvest stage’. Cutting at the correct harvest stage is key to a longer vase life of your cut flowers. For example, we do a ‘wiggle’ test on zinnias. If you grab the stem between two fingers about six inches down from the bloom and give the stem a little shake — if the stem stays stiff and the bloom doesn’t sway side to side, it’s ready to cut. If the bloom wiggles, or feels a bit limp and not sturdy on the stem, it’s not ready. Another example is poppies. Poppies should be cut when the bud has a slight crack and you can just see some color inside the bud — not when the bloom is wide open. Each individual flower variety has a very specific period of time where it is in its prime for cutting purposes.”
How to Harvest
“Always use sharp snips and try cut at an angle. Place flowers directly into water. If flowers stay out of water for any length of time always re-cut before placing in the water again. Also, it is always very important to use clean snips, and clean vases. All foliage that would fall below the water line of your vase should be removed. Change your water in your vase every two days and give your flowers are fresh snip at the same time.”
Arranging & Displaying
“I love arranging garden flowers in unique vessels. Antique urns or old milk bottles anything that enhances the character of the blooms.”
“My favorite way to style or display flowers is ‘less is more’. Let the flowers speak for themselves. I love to display flowers against a white wall or white table. It makes all the colors and flower tones pop. Arrange each bloom so it’s visible and has its own space among the other flowers. Or, get creative with these oh-so-sweet bud vases, reveal bottles and classic pitcher vases available in store and online. I normally like to pick three to five larger focal blooms per arrangement, as well as some upright flowers (tall) and then some filler flowers. Pick colors that are complementary to one another or use shades of the same color.”
“It is important to ensure your flowers are kept out of intense sunlight and change the water every two days — and at the same time, give your stems a fresh cut. As flowers fade, pull them out of the arrangement to keep the remaining beautiful as long as possible.”
“One of my favorite, easy to grow flowers for August are Cosmos. Cosmos can be direct seeded and grow very easily and will continue to seed themselves year after year if you let the old flowers go to seed. Cosmos look so beautiful just on their own in a vase or pair so beautifully with grasses or fall foliage for a unique non-traditional wild looking fall bouquet. I would encourage everyone to look beyond ‘just the flowers’ in their gardens and yards. Unique shrubs and greens can also really add a unique and romantic feel to arrangements. For example, spirea in the springtime is a wonderful greenery and filler to mix with spring flowers and ninebark is one of my favorite foliages for September bouquets.
Grow Your Own!
“I would highly encourage any gardening lover to grow a small cutting garden for themselves. Designate a small area of your garden that you allow yourself to snip from. Don’t be afraid to experiment with cutting different varieties. It can be extremely therapeutic — and anything home grown is just that much better and that much more special.”
Thank you, Kelly, for sharing your expertise with us!
Kelly Tellier is the owner and operator of Lily Stone Gardens, a seasonal cut flower farm and year-round floral design shop. You can find catch up with Kelly and her team on their website or on Instagram @lilystonegardens
Tuesday, May 16th, 2017
Around a month ago I sat down with Elaine Stechisen from Shelmerdine Garden Center to talk about planning your herb + flower garden. During our conversation, we veered off track and she began telling me about studies done on the healing properties of plants. And I don’t mean taking a herb supplement (though, that’s great for you, too.) I mean, mindfully placing a little succulent on your nightstand! Elaine told me about one specific study which compared patients recovering from surgery in a room with plants and ones in a room without. The ones that had plants around them during recovery needed less pain medication, had lower heart rates and blood pressures, and less anxiety and fatigue. Consequentially, they were released sooner from the hospital. We stuck to garden talk the rest of the time, but I ended up calling Elaine again to talk more about how and why plants are actually good for your health.
The real name for the study of this is horticultural therapy. It’s a formal practice using plants and horticultural activities to improve one’s physical and mental health.
Here are nine ways that gardening, nature, and plants improve the quality of your life, besides by looking pretty.
1. PLAYING IN THE DIRT = PROZAC
There’s good bacteria in soil that is proven to be more effective than Prozac! So if your parents were the type to boot you outside to go play in the mud, they were onto something. (As long as it hasn’t been sterilized; the sterilization process kills the good and bad bacteria.) You absorb it just by working with the soil with your hands and your feet, so ditch your garden gloves and sandals, and let yourself get a little dirty.
2. NATURE FOCUSES YOUR THOUGHTS ON SOMETHING OUTSIDE OF YOURSELF
Not only are you moving your body and enjoying yourself at the same time; your mind is engaged. It gets your mind off your internal issues and focused on the environment around you, which is extremely grounding and therapeutic. A horticultural therapist would recommend gardening to a senior who has lost a life long partner or is battling dementia or depression, for it gets their mind onto something else. Something much more life-giving than watching television.
3. THE RIGHT AMOUNT OF HOUSE PLANTS REMOVE MOST OF THE TOXINS FROM YOUR AIR.
Plants release moisture, increase humidity, and purify the air, all by going through their natural process: photosynthesis. This is especially great for people who have breathing problems or asthma.
According to Elaine, studies have shown that keeping the right quantity of plants in your home, they remove 87% of the volatile compounds in your air! That means toxins like formaldehyde and benzine (surprisingly high amounts of both of these are in all homes) will be filtered away. These studies instruct you keep one eight inch pot or larger for every 129 square feet. If you have plants of all sizes, you can simplify this formula by keeping one plant for every 100 square feet. They say this formula also works if you’re looking to fight fatigue, improve your health, and de-stress.
All plants purify the air, though some are better than others. Spider plants are the best. It actually filters better than an H-VAC. English ivy and snake plants are two others that are extremely effective.
4. TENDING TO YOUR GARDEN GETS YOU MOVING
Like most people, I struggle to add exercise to my life. I know the benefits, but I still find it tedious and time-consuming. So, when Elaine mentioned gardening as a form of exercise, I was elated. Spending an afternoon in your garden keeps you moving and can even be quite strenuous, bending in the heat. Working outside in the sun like that has the same type of benefits of doing yoga in a heated room. The warmth aids your muscles and is great for mobility. Just remember to practice sun safety!
5. NATURE ENGAGES ALL THE SENSES, WHICH PUTS THE MIND AT EASE
Nature does wonders for resting the mind. Getting your exercise in a green area or a park means your mind will get to rest while you’re putting your body to work. Nature engages all of the sense and keeps your brain stimulated. All of this results in an increase in pheromones, giving you a natural uplift. Forest Bathing, a Japanese practice called shinrin-yoku, recommends just 20 minutes outdoors in nature to receive the benefits.
Making a ritual of moving your body and breathing deeply while outside in the fresh air is one of the most effective ways to care for yourself. It’s great for hormonal balance, clearing your mind, and the well-being of your body. It’s been proven time and time again by horticultural therapists working with clients who have dementia or children with autism. When they bring their clients outside, they are suddenly calmer. They can process and hold the exact same kind of conversation much better than they would indoors. Especially, when they are guided to engage with their surroundings by touching leaves, noticing smells, or paying attention to the breeze. It triggers positive feelings and restores balance.
Elaine practices what she preaches and spends most of her time outdoors. She spends the whole summer out in her garden or yard. If she’s having a melancholy day in the middle of winter, she’ll head to the conservatory or Shelmerdine’s and wander.
6. YOU EAT HEALTHIER
Eating home-grown food is much better for you (and cheaper) than most of the food at the grocery store. You are doing your body a huge favour by filling it and by feeding it food grown right from your backyard. Or, from inside your house! It really is incredible what you can manage to grow inside if you have the time to dedicate to it.
7. CARING FOR YOUR PLANTS CAN REPLACE NEGATIVE HABITS
Habitual candy-eating or Netflix-bingeing aren’t things we necessarily feel good about after. But, the routine of caring for house plants or tending to a garden is a habit that’s good for the body, mind, and soul. There’s always tending that can be done and it’s a ritual that forces you to slow down.
8. CERTAIN PLANTS CAN HELP YOU SLEEP BETTER
There are plants, like lavender, that have soothing scents and are known to lull one to sleep. But, even better than that, are the plants that give off oxygen at night, rather than taking it. Those are the ones you definitely want in your bedroom. Snake plants, aloe vera, succulents, and orchids are a few that are great for this!
9. YOUR SUCCESS IS INCREDIBLY REWARDING
Planting a seed, watching it grow, then harvesting it to eat is SATISFYING. Noticing that the plant on your dining room table is standing a little taller than before makes you feel good about yourself. Or bragging rights earned by throwing a dash of the rosemary you grew into a meal. It doesn’t matter who you are, successfully nurturing a plant is uplifting.
Words by Meghan Zahari from Rogue Wood Supply
Photos by @the.whiitehouse
Saturday, June 6th, 2015
With barbeque and picnic season just around the corner, we’re excited to start using fresh mint from our gardens. Mint is really the perfect place to begin as you build your herb garden. It’s easy to grow and is so versatile, as its flavor compliments both sweet and savoury dishes and drinks. Spearmint is the most common type of mint, though there are more than 20 others, each with its own flavor profile. Peppermint and English Mint have a slightly peppery flavor, while Lemon, Orange, Pineapple and and Mojito Mint are sweeter and are best suited for beverages. There’s no doubt in our minds, mint’s versatility is unrivaled! Here are a few of our favorite uses for mint:
- Add a simple sprig to garnish a dessert or cocktail.
- Frozen into ice cubes.
- Mint-infused water flavored with ginger, cucumber, lemon, lavender, strawberries or watermelon.
- Chopped up into a bowl of fresh garden peas and some butter (delicious!)
- As a compliment to lamb or pork dishes.
- Brewed as a hot tea to soothe indigestion or a sore throat.
- A few leaves brightens up the flavor profile of any salad, especially quinoa or couscous.
What’s not to love about mint?
HOW TO GROW MINT:
- Mint’s roots are called ‘runners’ and are incredibly invasive: they sprout new leaves and new plants as they go. Mint will overtake a flower bed or garden in no time if you’re not careful.
- When choosing a location for your mint, find one where the plant will receive morning sun and partial afternoon shade.
- Plant in a container with drainage holes.
- As with all herbs, mint prefers well-draining soil and even moisture.
- When planting the herb in a flower bed, first submerge a pot, leaving the rim above ground level when potted, so the mint’s fast-growing root system will be contained. Otherwise, the herb will take over your garden and lawn in an annoying weed-like fashion.
- Harvest mint sprigs before the plant flowers.
- To extend the harvesting season, pinch off the flowering buds as they appear.
- Most mint plants are Zone 3 or 4 and can overwinter outdoors in our local climate. However, we do not receive enough daylight hours in the winter to sustain the plants indoors. Harvest and store the leaves in the summer to keep that fresh mint flavor for winter use.
Thursday, May 7th, 2015
With an abundance of vertical structures available for our garden spaces, we’ve brought in colorful, climbing annual vines to match. Ready to scale even the tallest trellis in a single season, annual vines are growing in popularity as they’re easy to grow and are an effective way to beautify a wall or fence, or to create a privacy screen. All annual vines have similar requirements; they like full sun, they like to be moist but not wet, and when fed a regular diet of 15-30-15 fertilizer, will produce an abundance of blooms all summer long. Once established, vines require little attention, perhaps just a little cutting back to control unwanted spreading.
Our latest arrivals, Moonflower and Morning Glory, are fascinating ‘plants in motion’ which open and close their flowers throughout the day and night!
Moonflower Vine: The Moonflower Ipomea alba is a popular fragrant variety which opens in the evening with an enticing sweet fragrance and lasts through the night until touched by the morning sun. Its petals curl up and these flowers sleep during the day. The Moonflower is the ideal plant for anyone who loves being in the evening garden! On a warm summer night, Moonflowers can open in a matter of several minutes. Large, heart-shaped leaves further enhance this attractive vine. Moonflowers can reach heights of up to 10 or more feet, happily twining around anything within their reach.
Morning Glory Vine: Morning Glory was first known in China for its medicinal uses. It was introduced to the Japanese in the 9th century, and they were the first to cultivate it as an ornamental flower. The Japanese have led the development of hundreds of varieties and Morning Glory has come to symbolize summer in Japanese horticulture and art. Morning Glory flowers are funnel-shaped blossoms in white, red, blue, purple and yellow. In early morning they unravel into full bloom and after a few hours the petals start to curl up and close. A favorite heirloom variety arrived this week, watch for Sunrise Serenade, a stunning ruby-rose double flowering morning glory.